NORMAL — Aiming to resurrect the Illinois State football team’s offensive success of 2014-15, Redbird coach Brock Spack has brought back the offensive coordinator who masterminded it.
Spack announced Thursday that Kurt Beathard will return to the Redbird coaching staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“We need a spark right now, and we believe Kurt is the perfect person to bring that," Spack said. "He has great knowledge of our system and culture here at Illinois State and helped lead the best offense in program history in 2014. His wealth of experience as an FCS coordinator and FBS assistant will be invaluable to our team. We can’t wait to work with him again.”
Beathard left the Redbird program in mid June of 2016, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. His youngest daughter was entering her senior year of high school.
“I had a couple other opportunities (to return to coaching), but some of those weren’t interesting,” Beathard said. “I talked to my wife and kids about it, and they gave me their blessing. I couldn’t ask for a better situation. There are not a lot of other better places (than ISU).”
Beathard was ISU’s offensive coordinator for the 2014 season when the Redbirds advanced to the FCS national championship game. With quarterback Tre Roberson and tailback Marshaun Coprich leading the way, ISU set school records for points (574), total touchdowns (76), total offense yards (6,954) and rushing yards (3,619).
ISU quarterback Jake Kolbe is “very excited” about Beathard’s return. Kolbe worked with Beathard his first two seasons as a Redbird and saw action as Roberson’s back up in 2014.
“He’s just a great coach and a great person to be around,” Kolbe said. “Those first two years were really fun. He has great football knowledge, and is a really fun person to be around. He’s good at getting players to feel confident. I’m excited to have an opportunity to work with him for my final year."
Billy Dicken and Dan Clark, who were already on the ISU staff when Beathard left, were named co-offensive coordinators and served in that capacity the past two seasons. Dicken and Clark were fired shortly after the Nov. 18 season finale.
Beathard has 15 years of experience as an FCS offensive coordinator, previously serving as coordinator for Gardner-Webb (2012), Eastern Kentucky (2003-06), Bucknell (2002) and Western Carolina (1996-2001) prior to his first stint at Illinois State. He also spent time as a collegiate assistant at Youngstown State, Illinois, Pacific, Towson, James Madison and Louisville.
Between stints at Illinois and Gardner-Webb, Beathard was an assistant in the UFL where he coached the running backs for the Florida Tuskers (2010) and Sacramento Mountain Lions (2011). In Florida, he worked with current Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and in Sacramento, and he was part of the staff under the direction of former NFL head coach Dennis Green.
“I’m excited and humbled at the same time to have this great opportunity to return to the program at Illinois State,” Beathard said. “I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with the players I worked with here at ISU in the past and getting to know those I haven’t had the pleasure to meet yet or met briefly during the recruiting process in 2015."
Beathard has already begun his study of the current Redbird offensive players.
"We are going to evaluate every player at every position," he said, "see what our strengths are and play to those as best as we can here moving forward.”
Beathard hails from a football family. His father, Bobby, was a longtime NFL general manager with the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers.
Beathard's brother Jeff is a scout for the Carolina Panthers, and his nephew, CJ, played quarterback at Iowa and currently plays for the San Francisco 49ers.
Beathard and his wife, Karen, have three daughters: LaRae, Grace and Eva.